Justify need for law academy, Putrajaya told
KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — Putrajaya must justify the need to set up a law academy that would overlap with the role and functions already covered by the Malaysian Bar and its two counterparts in Sabah and Sarawak, their chiefs said today.
Malaysian Bar president Lim Chee Wee and his counterparts in the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak (AAS) and Sabah Law Association (SLA), Khairil Azmi Mohd Hasbie and GBB Nandy @ Gaanesh respectively, were responding to de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz’s insistence on setting up a new statutory body to regulate lawyers.
“The reasons for the establishment of the proposed Academy of Law by way of legislation are highly questionable.
“If there are persons interested in exercising their freedom of association to form an Academy of Law, it is for them to organise themselves under the Societies Act 1966, and not for the government to undertake unsolicited initiatives to organise them,” the trio said in a joint statement today.
They advised the federal government that its resources would be better spent on setting up higher education centres to train lawyers and supporting the Legal Profession Qualifying Board headed by the Attorney-General to improve the Bar examination that students must pass to become lawyers.
The Malaysian Bar, the AAS and the SLA are governed by the Legal Profession Act to monitor the code of conduct and ethics of practising lawyers besides raising their standards of service.
The three lawyers said that Nazri’s remarks that the proposed academy would provide an alternative platform for law academics and other non-practising lawyers to gather and swap views on legal issues were not justified.
They pointed out that there were other existing associations registered under the Societies Act 1966 to cater to non-practising law experts and named the Malaysian chapter of the ASEAN Law Association, led by the Chief Justice, as an example of what Nazri was wanted to do with the law academy.
“These associations have not clamoured nor demanded for their continued existence to be legislated,” they said.
The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department was reported to have accused the Bar Council of “violating” the principle of freedom of association by rejecting the government’s bid to form a law academy.
“It does not involve the Bar at all. The academy will allow ex-judges, law academics, representatives from the Attorney-General’s Chambers and others to be in a society. What right does the Bar Council have to stop them?” Nazri was reported saying in Parliament last week.
The Malaysian Bar had been repeatedly attacked for its strongly-worded criticism of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s extreme actions against demonstrators who took part in the April 28 electoral reform rally led by former Bar Council chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan.